“To my fans: You all know that my life isn’t perfect. I am going through some very tough times right now, like I am sure that we all do from time to time. However, I will stand tall like always with “rhino” thick skin. Even though I have become used to hearing people say things about me that aren’t true, it still hurts. I encourage you to continue your ongoing support and I want you to trust that this is another obstacle in my life that, with God’s help I will overcome. God Bless You All.” – Allen Iverson
The most powerful drugs are the ones you only experience once. For those who (un)lucky enough to attain it, once fame is gone, it’s gone forever. All you can do is just hope your high lasts longer than the next man’s. Watching celebrities, many of whom are role models willingly or not, “come down” off that high is never easy. In some cases, it’s downright painful. We’ve all admired someone outside of our family, whether they be a musician, athlete, politician or activist. For myself, it was always Michael Jordan. For so many others I grew up with, Allen Iverson was that guy.
There’s no need to run through his athletic catalog, we’ve done that before. Figuring out where he ranks all-time? The experts are better equip to answer that. You see, I remember the days of high school when the main debates at the lunch table were either about basketball or rap music. When you’re in high school, not much else matters. I was never his biggest supporter, although I knew his talent was only bestowed upon him by a higher power. Then again, I was never his biggest detractor either, although there were parts of his game which I didn’t care for.
Looking back, the guy was one of the most polarizing figures of my generation. We all loved Jordan, but for people around my age, Iverson is someone we grew up with. We saw “the Jordan crossover” just like we heard the hardships throughout his life. My generation embraced it all, the ups and downs. This was the same person who had guys wearing socks on their arm during pick up games mimicking the sleeve he wore like a badge of honor. Or donning cornrows just because females thought #3 was “cute” with them. That’s power man. But it’s power which is often the fall to any empire.
At some point, that same power A.I. used in his favor caught up with him. That power allegedly presented itself in the form of gambling and alcohol addiction. Now, with a career basically over, a marriage already half way there and inevitable alimony and child support charges for five children, his future is about as certain as the ankles of those who once guarded him. I blame Iverson for what his life has come to and not preparing for life after basketball. But, like Michael Jackson, I also question those in concert with him. Different celebrity, same outcome. The more famous one becomes, the less true friends they have in their inner circle. Where was this concern when dude was throwing his life away in casinos or with a bottle? Where were his friends when he was buying out bars? At this point, who cares? It’s all hindsight now.
Knowing now, what we didn’t know a few weeks ago, those tears he shed mean so much more. He probably knew these troubles were on the verge of transitioning from private matters to public spectacles. “The Answer” wasn’t crying only because he was back in Philly. Nah, not even. He was crying because basketball was his only retreat from real life. The story defining Allen Iverson isn’t uncommon though. It’s probably thousands of stories like this happening across the country, A.I.’s profession just sets him apart. Still, it doesn’t make the situation less tragic. Looking at the legacy and aura that is Bubba Chuck, dominance and heart have allowed him to clear most hurdles since he stepped on Georgetown’s campus nearly two decades ago.
He’s went toe-to-toe with Kobe, while out dueling Vince Carter when he was “Half Man, Half Amazing.” He even immortalized Tyronn Lue, with one step. Not to mention, Allen’s been the source of many a headache for opposing teams and coaches for years. It’s just crazy to realize he’s now facing a defensive attack no one has ever truly figured out: life.